Some people will ask, “What does herniated disc pain feel like? The answer is more complex than I could give in a blog like this. However, herniated disc pain can range from sharp, shooting pain to dull achy pain. It can also be pain-free, but with a little numbness or tingling felt in an extremity. What I am able to say with a high degree of certainty is herniated disc pain or bulging disc pain will get better or worse with certain movements.
So for the purposes of this writing, I will speak to the “typical” patients with herniated disc pain that come into my office. Herniated or bulging discs are caused by abnormal stress or wear and tear on the body and come on gradually over time. Typically, in the early stages of disc bulge/herniation the person will notice a dull achy feeling in the lower back after they have been sitting for a period of time. This may or may not have been preceded by a strain in the lower back in recent hours or days, sometimes associated with a “pop” on the lower back. After sitting for a long period, they will attempt to stand and will feel stiffness that doesn’t allow them to get completely upright for a few seconds or steps. They may also notice that when bending forward to do the dishes in the kitchen sink or when washing their face, they have a nagging pain in their back. If noticed once or twice, this is no big deal. However, if you notice this virtually every time you sit for longer than 15 minutes, or every time you bend, you may want to get checked.
The most elusive type of herniated disc pain is to have no pain in the lower back or other spine area but to have some radiating pain or numbness down a leg or other extremity.